Dragon Boat rap

Home Culture 2019-05-14

Dragon Boat rap

Dragon boat rap, also known as "Dragon Boat", "Dragon Boat Song", "Dragon Island Song" or "Shunde Dragon Boat", is a popular form of folk art in the Pearl River Delta of Guangdong and other popular areas of Cantonese.

Dragon boat rap was formed during the reign of Qianlong in Qing Dynasty. It was mainly composed of Solfeggio and supplemented by vernacular. When singing, one person holds a wooden carved boat, hangs gongs and drums on his chest, and knows the rhythm while singing. The content of rap covers many widely circulated classical folktales and legends, especially the description of trivial life in Lingnan area, and mixed with local slang and folklore, which contains a lot of folk information. The representative plays include "Eight Immortals to celebrate longevity" and "Venus Opera Dou".

In 2006, the "Dragon Boat Rap" declared by Shunde District, Foshan City, Guangdong Province was selected into the list of the first batch of national intangible cultural heritage published by the State Council with the project number V-31.

Historical evolution

Background of origin

The exact date of the origin of dragon boat rap has no way to verify. It rose in the Qianlong period of the Qing Dynasty. There have always been disputes about its origin and background. Ye Chunsheng, a folk scholar in Lingnan, mentioned two kinds of expressions in his book Guangfu Folklore: "Dragon boat, or dragon boat rap, is also a form of rap sung in Guangzhou dialect, and is commonly used in Cantonese opera and Cantonese opera." It came into being a little later than Muyu. There are two kinds of opinions: one is that in the reign of Emperor Qianlong in Qing Dynasty, it was first created by a ruined family in Shunde County; the other is that in the reign of Emperor Kangxi in Qing Dynasty,'Tiandi Hui'and other organizations compiled for propaganda. It belongs to the genre of songs between Shuiyi and Jiangjiangjian, which was originally prevalent in the Pearl River Delta.

Development situation

Dragon boat rap first appeared in Longjiang and Guangzhou dialect areas in Shunde, Foshan. Gude tune is the orthodox style, and non-Shunde singers also need to learn Shunde accent first. Artists mostly sell and sing in public places such as teahouses, rural ferry and village treetops.

Shortly before the founding of the People's Republic of China, Shunde, Foshan, set up a 40-member "Shunde Dragon Boat Cantonese Opera Troupe" to perform in various places for a living. The troupe was dissolved in 1954, after which the artists took part in their respective activities. By the 1960s, no new works had appeared except the Cantonese dramatist Wen Juefei's Reversed Ball Curtain. Dragon boat rap was banned completely during the Cultural Revolution.

After the founding of New China, people made some reforms and explorations on Dragon Boat rap, such as changing the original singing from male artists to actresses, changing the original singing from singles to pairs and group singing, and trying to add small band accompaniment.

Artistic characteristics

Performance characteristics

During the Dragon Boat rap and singing performance, artists often hold a long stick with a wooden carved dragon boat on top as a sign, hanging a small gong and drum on their chest, beating rhythm for intermittent accompaniment singing. Dragon boat rap takes "one Gong and one drum" as its main musical instrument, while the old artists can generally hit the whole stage musical instrument by themselves, that is, the so-called "one dragon, two gongs and three sticks". "One dragon" refers to a wooden carved dragon boat, "two gongs" refers to a gong and a drum, and "three sticks" refers to the Dragon Boat sticks, bamboo tubes and drumming sticks that support the wooden carved dragon boat. Among them, drumming and Gong pay attention to skills: playing a long three short drums, five small gongs, singles, doubles, long points, small points, singing should be free to play.

Aria characteristics

The singing structure of dragon boat rap can be divided into three parts: starting style, body style and receiving style. The rhythm is free, the words are many and the voice is few. It belongs to the solo singing which only uses the broken sentences of gongs and drums. In the long-term artistic practice, Dragon Boat rap gradually formed two major schools of literary and martial arts singing. The style of literary singing is smooth and lyric, and some of them also highlight the color of feather tone, giving a sad mood. Literary singing is better at expressing the feelings of men and women, women's voices and bitter stories.

Features of libretto

The singing lyrics of dragon boat rap consist of three parts: starting form, body form and receiving form. The lyrics are basically seven-character sentences, sometimes breaking through the limitations of seven-character sentences and expanding to eight-nine-character sentences. Four sentences are a group, and the sentences and sentences are flat and interlaced, which makes them have a musical sense of ups and downs, high and low. The lyrics are colloquial and vulgar. They are compiled and sung in popular Cantonese dialect and slang.

Singing form

Dragon boat rap can be divided into three forms of performance. One is the rap and singing of dragon boats, including short stories or long stories and short songs of dragon boats. Artists cross the street to sing auspicious eulogies and ask households for food or change on New Year's Day. One is the Dragon Boat rap performance, which retains the traditional form of hand-held wooden Dragon carving and small gongs and drums hanging in front of the chest; some have red cloth bags hanging obliquely on the left waist to hold rewards or food. There are also carp song performances and Silver Tree performances. Carp song performance for hand-held woodcarving carp, while playing gongs and drums, while singing. The performances of Yunyin Tree are carried green branches (usually banyan branches), surrounded by red cloth, or covered with red envelopes on the branches, while others are performed with a pot of four-season oranges and citrus with golden fruits between the branches and leaves.

Rap props

Carved wooden Dragon

Wood Carving Dragons are generally about 60 centimeters long. There is a Dragon Court on the hull, which is divided into two layers, the top of which is made into the shape of Yuanbao. On the lower floor, there are thirteen capped gods with boat cases. Thirteen gods are arranged in six rows in two rows. The last one is responsible for holding the boat. There are two small red flags on the top of the Dragon boat. On both sides of the boat, the words "wind and rain are smooth, the state of Qin and the people are safe" are usually written, with one at the stern of the boat. The seven-star flag means to avoid evil and block the fall. Under the hull hangs three to four long dragon skirts to cover half of the sticks supporting the Dragon boat. Each boat case is covered by a wire string. The pulling wire will be pulled and swing, and the boat will paddle.

Dragon Boat gongs and drums

The gongs and drums are generally about 20 centimeters long. Generally speaking, rappers hold gongs and drums in their left hand, drumsticks in their right hand, three long and three short drums, five small gongs, which are used to beat beats and rhyme lyrics without accompanying other instruments. Only Suzhou Gong can be used in dragon boat rap.


Jinqi is a flag made of red silk and satin. After the successful application, the Jinqi banner was marked with the content of "national intangible cultural heritage".

Popular area

Dragon boat rap is popular in the Cantonese dialect areas of the Pearl River Delta, such as Foshan, Dongguan and Guangzhou.

Inheritance and protection

Current situation

Since the 1980s, due to the improvement of people's lives, the people's entertainment life is colorful. Only one basic tone of dragon boat rap has been singing by fewer people, and professional artists are rare. The inheritance of dragon boat rap skills is facing challenges.

First, changes in the environment. Because of the change of village environment, every household is a high-rise building with iron fences. The original form of the Dragon Boat rap singing single "rap along the door" tends to disappear, and the performance with the nature of "cultural performance" becomes the survival mode of dragon boat rap. There are two kinds: one is to rap and sing the dragon boat in the shrine ceremonies. Dragon boat artists will be invited or take the initiative to rap and sing the dragon boats at these special time shrine ceremonies for the purpose of offering sacrifices to gods. The second is to perform pure rap on the entertainment stage. This kind of stage, which is set up by the official, business or individual, aims at entertaining people.

Secondly, the loss of complex skills. Because of the characteristics of live inheritance of dragon boat rap, the performance of artists has never produced the so-called authoritative and textual text. Its essence is not based on the criteria of "correctness" and "elegance", but rather the oral characteristics of "creation in performance". But in the current Dragon Boat rap inheritance, there are not only guided lyrics and song books, but also old artists'performances mostly appear by reciting manuscripts. The fundamental reason for the loss of oral charm in Dragon Boat rap is that the oral performance created by improvisation is reduced to the repetition of the text lyrics.

Finally, the aging phenomenon of dragon boat rap artists is very prominent. Too little economic returns make it difficult for young people to pass on. Primary and secondary school students guided by artists have active thinking and strong acceptance. They are good carriers of dragon boat rap, but they will not participate in rap performances unless they participate in limited evening parties and competitions.

protective measures

Since the Dragon Boat Rap was selected by the State Council in 2006 for publishing the first batch of national intangible cultural heritage list, the Shunde District Government of Foshan City, Guangdong Province, has tried every means to replace the lost folk arts and carried out a series of inheritance work by means of propaganda, promotion and training. In 2006, the government of Xingtan Town, Shunde District, Foshan City allocated special funds to set up the first dragon boat rap training course, and invited non-surviving experts and dragon boat rap artists to teach, attracting a group of enthusiasts to participate. With the end of the training course, the group of enthusiasts organized and established the Dragon Boat Rap Association of Xingtan Town. After years of research, Mr. Chen Yongxin, a Foshan scholar, published the book Dragon Boat Rap.

Inheriting characters

You Xueyao (1939 - 2010), male, from Foshan, Guangdong Province. National representative successor of dragon boat rap project. Youxueyao has mastered the skills of rap tune and Gong and drum while listening to the old artists when he was young. He can learn to sing dragon boat with his singing book and recite the traditional dragon boat singing instinct word by word. In the early 1980s, Youxue Yaodeyou was appreciated and accepted as an apprentice, singing with his teacher everywhere. Its voice is high and bright, and many bass melodies often appear in the vocal cavity, which is rich and colorful and different. You Xueyao has formed his own style of rap and singing in the past 20 years, which is clear in pronunciation, simple in style, natural in drumming, changeable and interesting in dialect and powerful in rhythm. He is especially good at improvisation, and is one of the few inheritors of Shunde Dragon Boat Rap and Singing. Its representative repertoires are "Dingshan Goose Shooting", "Journey to the West", "Fang Shiyu Dazhao", "Chaijiazhuang Birthday" and so on. In 2006, Youxueyao was hired as a consultant of Dragon Boat Rap Training Course at Xingtan Cultural Station to actively impart his rap skills.

Wu Yuchi (1930-2008), male, from Foshan City, Guangdong Province. National representative successor of dragon boat rap project. Wu Yu-chi loved to sing Dragon Boat rap since childhood, and had many years of rap and singing experience. He has sweet tone, clear pronunciation and tactful line. He can skillfully integrate the advantages of Cantonese opera into dragon boat rap. On New Year's Day, Wu Yu-chi sang dragon boats from door to door. He can improvise according to the status of the host, festivals, celebrations and other different occasions. Its rap, singing and voicing are accurate and clear. He also compiled and performed Dragon Boat repertoires such as Husband and wife Heshun and Teachers and Students. In 2006, Wu Yuqi assisted Xingtan Town Cultural Station in launching the first dragon boat rap training course, teaching students in accordance with their aptitude, and assisting Dragon Boat rap experts in training a group of outstanding students.

Chen Zhenqiu (1941 - year), formerly known as Chen Qinghui, male, from Foshan City, Guangdong Province. The representative successor of dragon boat rap project in Guangdong Province. Chen Zhenqiu learned the way of dragon boat rap and singing from Longzhou Ning in 1953. After that, he was trained by Dragon Boat Fang, Dragon Boat Club, Youqing Song and Youzhenfa. He went to Leliu, Xingtan, Daliang and Lunjiao to sing lucky dragon boats on festivals and festivals. Its rap, singing and pronunciation are clear, the line is simple and the gongs and drums are strong. Since 2006, Chen Zhenqiu has actively cooperated with the rescue of dragon boat rap art, and has been named "outstanding folk artists in Xingtan Town". Since 2010, Chen Zhenqiu has taught Dragon Boat rap skills in Maicun Primary School and Xingtan Middle School.

Selected non Heritage

In 2006, the "Dragon Boat Rap" declared by Shunde District, Foshan City, Guangdong Province was selected into the list of the first batch of national intangible cultural heritage published by the State Council.

Quyi value

The Value of Folk Literature

Dragon boat rap is a genuine "grass-roots culture", because part of its repertoire comes from artists'compilation and self-singing, and part of it directly changes wooden fish books to Dragon Boat rap and singing. Various subjects, popular and vivid language, have positive significance for the protection and excavation of folk literature.

The Value of Folklore

Dragon boat artists are most likely to be seen on major festivals or various festive occasions. The lyrics often focus on festival and auspicious. Therefore, Dragon Boat rap contains a lot of folklore information.

Music value

Dragon boat rap is integrated into drama and music. It is singing without gongs and drums or accompaniment with other musical instruments. It is only sung by actors. Its experience in organizing words and singing and "asking words for tune" has reference value for the reform of opera and song tune. Since the founding of the People's Republic of China, this form has been widely used by propagandists as an important means of propaganda and encouragement.